Everybody and every brand are present on the social networking platform. The major challenge is not to be online but to build brand awareness and get visibility. Engagement is the fundamental concept that will assist each brand to be visible and also to create a dialog between brands and followers.
The social networking platforms are embedded in the daily life of individuals and organizations. There is no doubt that the social networking platforms influence to a great extent the way we communicate, network, socialize and develop our preferences as consumers. Generally speaking, every individual and brand in the present on the social networking platform. Consequently, the point is not to go online but to be visible enough for your target audience. One of the main reasons is the information overload. In other words individuals are exposed to a vast amount of information so they find it challenging to distinguish what is relevant to them and what is not.
Nowadays, the social media strategy constitutes an essential part of the marketing strategy of a company for the following reasons. First of all, the strategic presence on the social networking platforms create visibility and brand awareness. Secondly, it creates engagement between fans, customers, and business partners. In this point, I would like to underline that the number of followers, i.e. LIKES on Facebook, is not an indicator of engagement. For instance, someone may like a Facebook page or follow a Twitter account but not be actively engaged. As a result, the organizations should not focus primarily on the number of followers but the number of people or brands actively engaged and interested in their activities. It is challenging to define engagement in social media due to the fact the social networking platforms are constantly evolving. However, for the purposes of this post I would like to define engagement as the relationship between individuals and brands or business and brands (in the case of B2B).
Engagement is vital because it creates visibility and brand awareness:
Organizations should take into account that engagement is essential in creating visibility and brand awareness, and getting recognition. Furthermore, engagement will set the bases to construct a continuous dialog between the brands and their target audience. Before proceeding to the identification of some engagement strategies I would like to mention some factors that may influence engagement. Firstly, brand engagement could be led to the construction of a community of fans, consumers, clients and business fond of a particular brand, and vice versa. Community is a core concept for my analysis. On the one point view, individuals have the intrinsic desire to belong to a community where they share their opinions on a particular topic with other people with similar interests. On the other point of views, brands have the tendency to form communities so that to understand better the market and shape their marketing strategy both online and offline. Secondly, the identity is another important concept that should be taken into account. I recognize that it is rather hard to define identity because many different social dynamics shape it. In the case of brand awareness, if individuals or brands identified with a particular brand it is more likely to become actively engaged. Thus, brand visibility is augmented.
Social media engagement is strongly related to a high quality market research:
An important part of designing a successful online strategy is to employ an adequate research on brand’s image and market positioning. Quantitative or qualitative research approaches, such as surveys and focus groups, are useful tools to study the image of a brand within the market. A good understanding of brand’s image and market positioning will assist to develop a direct narrative in line with brand’s vision and marketing strategy. Before proceeding with the development of a social media strategy, the brands should detect market’s needs. The latter may contribute to identifying better the target-group, an important component of audience development strategy. In addition, brands should consider that consumers’ preferences shape the communication dynamics in the online environment.
Brands should incorporate the rules of the different social networking platforms accordingly:
Audience development is strongly dependent on the dialog between brands and audience. On the social networking sites, the communication between brands and audience should be a mixture of humor and professionalism. Moreover, brands should integrate customer support through the social networks. In other words, provide customer support via the social networking platforms. In addition, brands should take into account that each social networking platforms follow its own rules and communication norms. Consequently, brands should adapt to the communication patterns of each social networking platforms. For instance, it is not advisable for a brand to post its Tweets automatically on Facebook and vice versa. On the hand, on Twitter the user has only 140 characters and the use of hashtags is rather popular. On the other hand, on Facebook there is no character restriction and the use of hashtags is not particularly important. Furthermore, it is rather important to acknowledge that the audience of each social networking platform is different and satisfies different needs in each platform.
Sustainability and consistency: Two concepts that should be taken into consideration:
Sustainability and consistency are other significant factors that brands should take into consideration. Currently, there are many social networking platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. It takes time to create an interactive and eye-catching content that satisfies the needs of all those platforms. Consequently, it is rather advisable to be present in some social networking platforms so that to have enough time to produce a consistent content. In my opinion, consistency will boost engagement and visibility since it gives a good image for the brand.
Measuring brand engagement is rather challenging. There are many social media tools that promise to measure qualitatively and quantitatively brand engagement. A good way to measure the number of “mentions” to conversations relevant to the brand. This may provide an indicator regarding the spread of your message. Furthermore, Facebook pages and Twitter have embedded some engagement measurement tools.
Nowadays, social media strategy consists an important part of the marketing, PR and communication strategy of each brand. Social networking platforms could be a powerful tool to create engagement, raise brand awareness and get visibility. However, the brands should consider their audience and the social media strategy should be in line with the overall marketing strategy of the brand. To sum up, I would like to repeat that the number of followers does not guarantee active engagement.